The Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Audiologists (ACSLPA) regulates its members in the public interest. SLPs and audiologists in Alberta comply with regulatory requirements as enabled through the Health Professions Act (HPA) and the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Profession Regulation. ACSLPA provides further direction through the Standards of Practice (SoP) and Code of Ethics.
2018 marked the introduction of Bill 21 which is being referred to as the Act to Protect Patients. This bill is an amendment to the HPA. Bill 21 passed third and final reading in the assembly on November 8, 2018. There is a coming into force provision that specifies that several sections of Bill will come into force on April 1, 2018. The other amendments came into force when Bill 21 received Royal Assent on November 19, 2018.
On April 1, 2019, new definitions come into force that define patient, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and sexual nature with mandatory processes by hearing tribunals when finding of sexual abuse or misconduct are made.
In addition, when a regulated member, acting in the regulated member’s capacity, has reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct of another regulated member of any college constitutes unprofessional conduct within sexual context, that member must report that conduct to the appropriate Complaints Director of the respective Colleges.
Along with new definitions and responsibilities there are also other provisions under construction which include rules within: a Patient Relations Program; Discipline; registration; hearing tribunals; website information; responsibilities of the complaints director; the disclosure of information to the public.
As part of Bill 21, ACSLPA, like all other professional colleges, is expected to develop additional SoP related to the conduct of its regulated members.
The new SoP will include when it is appropriate and inappropriate for regulated members to enter into sexual relationships as it relates to the definition of “patient”.
The New SoP is subject to approval by the Health Minister. ACSLPA is well into the drafting and member consultation process in readiness for the Minister’s endorsement. The New SoP will be made available once this process is completed.
Apart from Bill 21, ACSLPA has always maintained SoPs related to professional relations and boundaries which are also interconnected with the Code of Ethics.
Standard 3.3, Professional Boundaries, states that “a regulated member of ACSLPA acts with integrity and maintains appropriate professional boundaries with clients, professional colleagues, students and others at all times”.
The indicators that demonstrate the behavior in order to meet the standard include:
The expected outcome by ACSLPA has always been that clients and colleagues can expect that their relationships with the regulated members are respectful and that professional boundaries are maintained.
Each regulated member of ACSLPA is accountable for practicing in accordance with all our SoPs, regardless of role, practice area or practice setting. Practicing in breach of the Standards of Practice or Code of Ethics may constitute unprofessional conduct.